But hold upski a second. Because in the other corner we have The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg declaring that Chloe Zhao‘s Nomadland is “the first across-the-board Oscar contender of the unusual 2020-2021 season.”
Didn’t Feinberg see One Night in Miami? He probably did. It’s been streaming around since its Venice Film Festival debut. So why didn’t he call Regina King‘s film the first serious Oscar contender and Chloe Zhao‘s the second?
Feinberg: “Adapted by Zhao from Jessica Bruder‘s acclaimed 2017 non-fiction book of the same name, Nomadland paints a beautiful and haunting portrait of the ways in which many older Americans have been impacted by the Great Recession. And it features a leading turn by a never-better Frances McDormand that could well result in her becoming only the second person to accumulate as many as three best actress Oscars, after Katharine Hepburn, who won four.
“It’s hard to imagine a film that could better capture the zeitgeist — often a major consideration for members of the film Academy, conscious or not — than this portrait of mournful and weary resilience, which begs the question: is this really what has happened to America, the land of promise, and the American dream? It is set during the Obama years, but is just as much a comment on the Trump years, so it won’t be easy for either side to politicize it.
“The closest comparison that I can think of is the 1940 classic The Grapes of Wrath, which was adapted from John Steinbeck‘s story of people hit by hard times but passing by or surrounded by people in the same boat and therefore, perhaps, maintaining their dignity and their strength to carry on.”
Feinberg won’t say it, but I will. The ’20/’21 Oscar race is going to be strongly influenced by women, people of color and wokeness in general. The ideal Best Picture Oscar winner will ideally be directed by a woman (preferably by a woman of color like Zhao), and the least likely contenders for the Best Picture Oscar will probably be, unfair as it sounds, films primarily about white-guy realms. I suspect that Mank, a mostly-white-guy period film, may run into resistance because of this. If this doesn’t happen, great. But the wind is the wind.